Children protected against polio in Liberia

As Liberia moves towards recovery after the Ebola outbreak, routine immunization is able to protect children once again after a year without services

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Children in some Ebola-affected countries are receiving polio vaccines again following more than a year with no campaigns or routine immunizatio. WHO/ C. Banluta

Despite the unprecedented challenges of delivering basic health services in an Ebola emergency, Liberia held its first public immunization campaign in May. During a week long campaign, more than 600,000 children were protected against polio and measles.

The interruption of crucial immunization services for the past year has created an alarming gap in immunity in countries with drastically weakened health services. Filling this gap is one of the first steps Liberia is taking towards rebuilding health infrastructure. With a polio-free Africa closer than it has ever been, with no case since August 2014, reaching vulnerable populations and strengthening surveillance is now the highest priority for the GPEI across the continent.

While polio services have been suspended, the polio infrastructure has been essential in the Ebola response, providing support for community engagement, disease surveillance and coordination of the response.

The closure of the outbreak in Liberia on 9 May provides a much needed opportunity to begin to rebuild trust in communities, to restore services and to ensure that these countries are protected against polio, seizing on this narrow window of opportunity to offer children across Africa a polio-free future.

Read more on the campaigns in Liberia and Maternal and Child Health Days in Sierra Leone.


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